Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Burns Cottage, Alloway

At last! I have finally done it. As the Austrian should visit Mozartsgeburtshaus, or the Englishman Statford-upon-Avon, a once-in-a-lifetime trip should be made by all curious Scots to the origin point of their most famous artist, Robert Burns.


As someone interested in poetry, and Scotland, a trip to Burns Cottage in Alloway had to be made at some point in my life, a poesy pilgrimage, a haggis hajj... but instead, a wet Monday in Ayr saw us unmotivated and looking for something to do. Why not Burns Cottage? And so to Alloway, on the outskirts of Ayr, we went.

The cottage is near Alloway auld kirk and the Brig o' Doon, which are of interest if you have read Tam o' Shanter. If you haven't, the impact is lessened. Indeed, if you don't know anything about Burns, Burns Cottage - where the poet spent the first seven years of his life - is underwhelming. It's an old cottage. That's it. There's no description or interpretation of the life and work of Robert Burns. I think that if you are considering a visit, it is worth waiting for the opening of the new museum, due next summer.

A mile from Alloway, the River Doon discharges into the Firth of Clyde. On a promonotory above the rivermouth sits the remains of Greenan Castle, a stark, Smailholm-like tower, jutting, unexpected, abrupt. Who built it and when, I wondered?

Greenan Castle:

I much preferred Greenan to Burns Cottage.

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